snow damage kayak

Can Snow Damage A Kayak

Asking ‘Can snow damage a kayak?’ is a good idea when selecting a location for kayak winter storage. However, kayak outside storage for winter may not be the best solution, at least not for your kayak’s hull integrity.

Snow can cause significant damage to your kayak. However, it is not just snow that can damage your kayak during winter. Ice can cause your kayak to crack. Strong winter winds could blow your kayak off a shelf if not secure. 

Kayaking is generally a summer activity, with our watercraft in constant use throughout the summer months. When winter comes, the weather causes us to go with a kayak winter storage as we await the return of the warmer weather. Forgetting to put your kayak in storage for the winter is something many of us have done. Those who have cold winters that include snow may wonder if snow piling up on your kayak could damage the kayak in any way. 

While snow (and the winter weather) can damage your kayak, it is an entirely preventable problem. In this article, we’ll look at why snow and ice can damage your kayak. I’ll also discuss all the options you can use to keep your kayak safe and sound when you put it in storage in winter. So you are armed with information, I’ll cover the ins and outs you need to know about the different storage methods. I’ll also include the do’s and don’ts of your kayak winter storage from my years of experience working with the watercraft. 

Damage To Your Kayak Caused By Snow

Snow can affect your kayak due to the stress the weight of the snow places on the kayak. Snow can get quite heavy, especially if there is a lot and if the snow is compact. When you add ice to the weather equation, you create a hefty weight of ice. It also expands, so if it gets inside the kayak, it will likely damage your kayak if enough collects on or in it. 

While kayaks can withstand a large amount of weight while they are on the water, this ability significantly decreases when they’re on dry land. Furthermore, as kayaks are primarily hollow, they do not have much support on the inside. All of this means that their weight resistance while being stored is not excellent.

Your kayak can buckle or crack under the weight of snow. Either option isn’t particularly appealing when you have splashed out hundreds of dollars on a fancy kayak. Therefore, leaving your kayak lying outside in your garden in the winter in an area where it snows is not a good idea unless you fancy a damaged kayak come spring. 

Other Problems Caused By Winter Weather

can snow damage kayak
Two kayaks are left out for the winter on a low profile rack.

It isn’t just the snow that can damage your kayak, and there is a lot more than just the weight of snow to consider when storing your kayak during the winter. 

Freeze-Thaw Cycles

During winter, the temperatures can often fluctuate between days of extreme cold and snow and ordinary days. It can lead to freeze-thaw cycles, which can be highly damaging to your kayak. 

A freeze-thaw cycle is when water gets into a crack in something and then freezes. It is a process of expansion, so the crack is made more prominent. The water then melts when the temperature increases and fills up the new parts of the crack. When the temperature drops again, it caused the water to refreeze, which increases the crack’s size. 

This process is continuous and can cause tiny cracks in your kayak to become a big problem. It can also compromise the waterproofing of the kayak. 

Furthermore, you don’t even need to live in an area with snow for this to be an issue. Anywhere where the temperature drops below freezing could mean that freeze-thaw cycles become an issue for the kayak. 

Damage By Critters

Small rodents like mice and rats are also not big fans of the cold and like to look for warm, dry places to spend the winter, and the inside of your kayak is an attractive location.

However, the last thing you want in your kayak is a rodent family. They can make a big mess by bringing in things like grass and other materials to outfit their new home. Furthermore, they may also chew through important lines or destroy the material on your seats or on any other accessories you own. We’ll get onto how to prevent this from happening later on in the article. 

Strong Winds

Winter weather can often bring in more than just snow and sleet. It can often lead to extreme winds, and strong winds and kayaks don’t work too well together. 

If your kayak is lying in your garden and not tethered to a strong structure, it can be tossed around by a mighty wind. It will likely damage your kayak, as well as the rest of your garden, as the kayak will end up somewhere not intended.

It is not just a consideration you should consider during the winter months, especially if you live in areas where cyclones/hurricanes are prevalent. During a hurricane, the last thing you want is for your kayak to go flying around.

So, make sure you tie down your kayak to a substantial structure if you live in an area where you know the wind will pick up. If you don’t, the wind may not be the only thing that’ll pick up at that time. 

How To Store Your Kayak In Winter

We’ve now established that leaving your kayak out in your garden in the middle of winter is not a good idea if you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing. 

The ideal storage solution depends on what sort of environment you habituate. If you live in a strong wind and snow location, you will want to keep your kayak entirely out of the elements. If you live somewhere with occasional snow and mild winds, then you won’t need somewhere as sturdy as the former option.

Let’s examine some of the potential storage options to keep your kayak safe and sound when that cold weather sets in.

Garage or Shed

It is the safest and easiest option for storing your kayak in winter. It’ll keep your kayak dry and out of the snow. You won’t have to worry about freeze-thaw cycles or the wind. Furthermore, if security is an issue in your area, this is also a good option. If you can store it indoors, it is the easiest and safest option and is the ideal way to keep your kayak. 

Under a deck.

It is a superb option if you can’t store your kayak indoors. It will keep your kayak dry and out of the elements. However, if you live somewhere with heavy snow and rain, it may be a good idea to cover your kayak with a waterproof tarp. Using a tarp will also keep critters out of your kayak.


There are multiple ways to store your kayak outside, and each option has its pros and cons. However, the one thing you should not do is leave your kayak lying in your garden with no coverings in winter. Doing this will likely lead to damage to your kayak, as snow will and ice will collect on it.

However, there are ways to store your kayak in your garden that won’t lead to it getting damaged. The main two factors to consider when storing your kayak outdoors are to cover it with something and keep it above the ground.

  • Cover your kayak
  • Keep it off the ground

You can do the former with a waterproof tarp tied down to prevent it and the kayak from being blown away. You can do the latter by mounting it on a kayak rack attached to your fence or wall. These two solutions will keep your kayak dry and away from pesky critters.

Furthermore, it is advisable to clear the snow off the tarp every few days to prevent your kayak from being dented or warped. 

Other Kayak Winter Storage Considerations

When storing your kayak away for an extended period, you don’t want any moisture in it, as this can cause mold. Therefore, before you store your kayak for the winter, make sure that it is completely dry.

It is also an excellent strategy to wash your kayak before you put it away for the winter. It can be a complete clean with soap and water or a spray down with a hosepipe. However, if you will be washing your kayak before storage, remember to make sure that your kayak is dry before putting it away. 

It is also safer not to keep any accessories like padded seats in your kayak when you store them. Rodents can damage these if they somehow make their way into your kayak and can also become moldy if they aren’t completely dry before being stored. 

The Cold Of Winter Kayak Storage

If you’re going to keep your kayak outside, I recommend a quality cloth tarp. I used one of those cheap blue ones, and it disintegrated in the sun, leaving tiny spots of sun-faded color on the hull of my kayak.

Boater Jer

My Favorite Kayak Winter Storage Tarp

The tarp that I like is 12′ x 20′ and distributed by Trademark Supplies on Amazon. These tarps are more pricey than those you’ll find in the hardware store, but the quality is worth it. They don’t biodegrade nearly as fast as the standard cheap blue tarps. These are much better.

Jeremy Shantz

Reviews on Amazon



Snow can damage the kayak because of the extra weight it places on your kayak. Combining with ice, it can become even heavier. It can put extreme stress on your kayak and lead to it becoming dented or cracked. 

However, it is relatively easy to prevent this by ensuring that your kayak is covered when you store it over the winter months. You can do it with a waterproof tarp, or you can just put it in your garage or shed. The main thing is to make sure to limit exposure to the elements. 

If you do this, your kayak should survive its hibernation period without any damage and be in great shape and ready to take to the water when the weather warms up again. 

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